by Jeffrey Steinberg
The July 15 release of the 28 page chapter from the original December 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 has opened a new chapter in the 15-year long battle to get to the bottom of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 innocent citizens were killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and western Pennsylvania, in the worst terrorist incident to ever occur on U.S. soil.
With the 15th anniversary of those attacks just days away, and with the newly revealed evidence of the direct hand of the Saudi Monarchy in those cowardly acts now out in the public view, it is time for a truly thorough and independent investigation to get to the bottom of 9/11.
One immediate step is for the House of Representatives to unanimously pass the Justice Against Supporters of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would reinstate the Saudi Monarchy as defendants in the long-running legal action brought by survivors and family members of the 9/11 victims. That case, now before a Federal Judge in New York, offers the most immediate opportunity to put top Saudi officials on record on their role in the terrorist attacks.
The 28 page chapter from the original Joint Inquiry made clear that senior Saudi officials, starting with Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the long-serving Saudi Ambassador to the United States, had a direct hand in supporting the 9/11 terrorists. Bandar and his wife Princess Haifa provided at least $50,000 to the hijackers al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, through two known Saudi intelligence agents, al-Basnan and al-Bayoumi. The paper trail is explicit, and it reaches into the upper echelons of not just the Saudi Monarchy, but the British Monarchy as well.
At the time of the preparations for 9/11, Prince Bandar was receiving regular installments on a $2 billion kickback for his role in creating the Al Yamamah oil-for-arms deal between the British and the Saudis—a deal that also created offshore slush funds for the promoting of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. Funds went from the Al Yamamah accounts at the Bank of England to Bandar’s personal accounts at Riggs National Bank in Washington—and on from there to the west coast team of 9/11 terrorists.
By profile, Prince Bandar was hardly a Wahhabi fundamentalist or proponent of jihadist terrorism. Yet, his fingerprints are all over the 9/11 attacks. He was acting on behalf of the Saudi Monarchy and the British Monarchy—and, by extension, for the very George W. Bush/Dick Cheney U.S. Administration that used the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as the rationale for going to war against Iraq, for imposing the Patriots Act, and for launching the biggest illegal spying operation against American citizens in history.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Chief of Staff to George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently told reporters that Vice President Cheney suppressed all evidence of the Saudi role in 9/11, because he was committed to blaming the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, to justify the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Had the 28 page chapter of the Joint Inquiry Report been released to the public in Dec. 2002, it would have been impossible for Bush and Cheney to have gotten their dirty war against Iraq. It would have been like going to war against China after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
So Cheney, Bush and others at the top of the Executive Branch suppressed the 28 pages—for 15 years—and got their Iraq war and all of the horrors that followed.
Truth does not have an expiration date
Fifteen years after the fact, it is time for a full and honest reckoning with history. A truly thorough and independent official investigation must be launched into 9/11. It must start from the top down. The British government of Tony Blair shut down the investigation into the Al Yamamah deal at the point that investigators from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office were getting at the secret offshore slush funds that have been the biggest source of money to global jihadist terrorism, dating back to 1985, when Al Qaeda was first being launched out of the Afghanistan War. That investigation must be reopened.
Before their work was shut down, investigators for the Joint Inquiry and the 9/11 Commission established a list of more than 20 Saudi government officials who were directly linked to the two west coast hijackers. Many held important posts in the Saudi Embassy in Washington, others were spread around the United States and Europe.
A Federal Judge in Florida is reviewing more than 80,000 pages of long-suppressed FBI documents, revealing another Saudi link to 9/11, through a wealthy Saudi businessman, employed by leading Saudi princes, whose Sarasota, Fla. home was frequently visited by Mohammed Atta and two other hijackers. The FBI sat on those documents for a decade, and only released them to the Judge when investigative journalists for the Broward Bulldog online publication found out about the Sarasota links.
Senator Bob Graham, the former U.S. Senator from Florida who co-chaired the Joint Inquiry and has been a champion of the fight for full disclosure of the Saudi role in 9/11, has demanded to know: What about the Saudi terror cells in Herndon, Va. and Paterson, NJ? Where else is there evidence of top-down Saudi royal involvement? Nothing short of a de novo complete investigation can be tolerated—even at this late moment.
This time, the investigation must have unlimited resources to do the job. The FBI, which 9/11 Commission investigators accused of running a top-down coverup, must be a subject of the new probe. The role of successive British governments must be included, because without an understanding of the Al Yamamah deal and other relations between the British and Saudi Monarchies, the truth will remain concealed.
Lyndon LaRouche was on hand as the planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers on the morning of 9/11. Seven months prior to those attacks, LaRouche had warned that the incoming Bush-Cheney Administration would look for a “Reichstag Fire” incident to go for dictatorship. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, LaRouche supporters were out on the streets of New York and many other cities around the country, warning about an imminent terrorist attack, based on evidence accumulated over the course of the summer of 2001.
The heroic Members of the U.S. Congress, who joined with Sen. Graham and with LaRouchePAC in fighting for the release of the 28 pages, have all said, in their own words, that the reading of those 28 pages and the evidence they contained of the Saudi complicity in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, changed their view of history. Those 28 pages merely opened the door into a much bigger scandal, which must now be fully unearthed. The families and victims of 9/11—living and dead—have the right to the truth, as do the American people.
The release of the 28 pages was a victory for persistent public action, which forced the Obama Administration to end the nearly eight-year cover-up, which followed the eight year cover-up by Bush and Cheney. On the strength and momentum of that victory, and as we pause to commemorate the 15th anniversary of those heinous crimes, we must assure that the full probe goes forward now.